During middle school, many young people disengage from and consequently do not achieve in school-based STEM subjects. This phenomenon is more pronounced among young people in low-income communities than elsewhere. Many summer, out-of-school STEM programs are designed to offer young people opportunities to engage in hands-on, inquiry-based learning that promote interest and engagement in STEM. Research on the effect of these types of programs is limited, however.
The STEM Interest and Engagement Project (STEM IE) studied youth interest and engagement in summer STEM camps in four focus areas (Activity Settings, Program Quality, Making Content Relevant, Supporting Youth Agency, and Fostering Interest in STEM). Practical implications and resources for out-of-school time and informal science learning programs and practitioners were drawn from the findings from the STEM IE and other related studies.